Noocytes, Or The “Noo” World Order: Greg Bear’s Blood Music

Copyright © 1985 by Greg Bear. All Rights Reserved.

Science fiction stories can be many things.  They can be visionary, they can stretch the mind to unimaginable horizons… and they can be downright weird.

Blood Music, by Greg Bear, is all three.

The story revolves around a daring scientist named Vergil Ulam, who has rewritten his own lymphocytes into intelligent microorganisms.  When his company fails to back his endeavor, Ulam seizes the initiative and injects himself with these cells, beginning the process of rewriting his own biological structure and unleashing a terrifying new organism–a collective of intelligent cells called “noocytes.”

As I said before, this story is daring for looking into nanotechnology when it was still a very new science at the time.  It forces the reader to a new and bizarre perspective as the noocytes expand themselves into the world.  And it becomes just plain weird as these new creatures overtake a good chunk of civilization like some kind of zombie virus, emptying the cities of human life and leaving a terrifying new creature in its wake.

I rather liked this story, even if it was somewhat creepy in its later moments, and even though I didn’t care all that much for the protagonist.  He struck me as a bit too quick to experiment with himself, but that’s probably intentional on the author’s part.  Perhaps he is a walking parable about the zealotry some scientists have for their work and the dangers to society that their blind devotion might create.

And don’t ask why, but I kept picturing Vergil Ulam as someone resembling Jeff Goldblum.  Like I said, sometimes sci-fi is just weird.

Regardless, I found the story thrilling, and I felt a good connection with Suzy, the young woman we follow during the climax.  This is a story of evolution, both for individuals and all humanity.

Bibliography: Bear, Greg.  Blood Music.  New York: Arbor House, 1985.


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